Gambling Disorders

Gambling involves betting something of value on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value. It is a form of entertainment and can be fun, but it can also have adverse consequences for those who struggle with pathological gambling. Gambling is a complex issue and different observers view it from different perspectives, depending on their disciplinary training and worldview. Some see it as evidence of recreational interest, diminished mathematical skills, poor judgment, cognitive distortions, mental illness, or moral turpitude.

Many people who have a problem with gambling have underlying mood disorders like depression, stress, or anxiety. These conditions can cause, or be made worse by compulsive gambling and need to be addressed. It can be helpful to seek professional help from a counselor or psychiatrist to work through the issues that are contributing to the behavior. Counseling can be individual or family based, but it is often more effective to join a support group for problem gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous.

Several types of therapy can be used to treat gambling disorder, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and family therapy. CBT can teach you strategies to stop gambling and to manage your emotions more effectively. Psychodynamic therapy can explore deeper psychological issues that may contribute to your problems with gambling. Family therapy can address the ways that your family has shaped your relationship with gambling and can help you repair your relationships.

Another important aspect of treating gambling disorders is identifying and setting financial boundaries. It is important to have someone else in charge of your finances and credit, close online gambling accounts, and limit the amount of cash you carry with you. This will make it more difficult to be tempted to gamble. It is also useful to establish a “no-gambling” zone in your home where you do not keep any gambling materials or electronics.

A common complication of gambling is chasing losses, which occurs when people continue to place bets in an attempt to recoup their lost money. This is a dangerous habit that can quickly spiral out of control and lead to bankruptcy. To avoid chasing your losses, never place a bet higher than what you can afford to lose and always quit once you’ve reached a loss threshold.

While it is not entirely clear what causes gambling disorders, it has been shown to run in families and can be caused by social factors such as poverty or unemployment. It is also possible that traumatic experiences in early childhood or adolescence can contribute to the development of gambling disorder. Men appear to be more susceptible to developing a gambling disorder than women, probably because they begin to gamble at a younger age. For those with serious addictions, inpatient and residential treatment and rehab programs are available. They provide round-the-clock support to help you stop gambling and regain control of your life. Getting back on track after struggling with gambling is a process that will take time and commitment, but it is possible to overcome your addiction and live a happy and healthy life.